The Tinkoff team will fold at the end of this season when owner, Oleg Tinkov, leaves the cycling world – so the team are motivated to go out on a high, to thank their larger-than-life owner for his support and contribution to the sport.
Tinkoff have assembled a strong team for their French campaign, resplendent with rainbow stripes and national champions. Between them, the team has 23 Grand Tour stage wins in the cabinet, with eleven of those at the Tour de France. It is without a doubt a versatile team and their Specialized bikes will surely be first to cross the line on more than one stage over the next three weeks.
A double-barrelled threat
Perhaps the only team in the peloton to successfully take two leaders to a Grand Tour, Tinkoff is backing veteran, Alberto Contador, for the overall and world champion, Peter Sagan, for the points classification.
Spain’s Alberto Contador is one of only six riders to have won all three Grand Tours, winning the Tour de France twice, not including the 2010 edition. He has not had success in France since his doping ban and seems to be more and more motivated as years go by to claim back the yellow jersey.
El Pistolero, as he is nicknamed, has not had a bad start to the season with first at the mountainous Vuelta al Pais Vasco and consistently high placings at Paris-Nice, Catalunya and the Volta ao Algarve. After a convincing victory in the tough uphill individual time trial at the Criterium du Dauphiné, he lost the yellow jersey to Chris Froome later in the week, and the Brit kept hold of it until the podium.
Peter Sagan travels to France for the fifth time. On all four previous appearances, Sagan has taken home the green jersey of the points classification. Despite the strength and breadth of his rivals, it’s hard to see past him for the fight for green. Given how consistent he has been so far this season, only a crash could get in his way.
Both Sagan and Contador will be riding the S-Works Tarmac with custom paintjobs. You can’t buy an exact replica of their machines, because they’re truly unique, but you can get yourself an S-Works Tarmac in our online store.
With Alberto Contador atop the team roster, we have come to expect certain others to make the bus almost by default. Roman Kreuziger has become a strong lieutenant for Contador on all terrains and is expected to follow his leader to wherever the Spaniard goes in 2017. A viable general classification contender in his own right, Kreuziger has finished in the top ten of a Grand Tour on seven occasions and won the best young rider classification in the 2011 Giro d’Italia. He starts the Tour de France as the newly-crowned Czech National Road Race Champion.
Rafal Majka is another fiercely motivated Grand Tour star of the future with three individual Tour de France stages already under his belt. After Contador withdrew from the Tour in 2014, Majka was let off the leash. He won two stages, and was crowned the King of the Mountains. A true mountain king, the new Polish national champion has lead Tinkoff at the Vuelta and the Giro, finishing third and fifth respectively. But with Contador at the pointy end, Majka will be an important teammate when the road goes up and, if all goes well, he may even be allowed his own taste of glory in the last week.
Kreuziger and Majka are joined by Robert Kiserlovski, and the trio will be fulfilling a key role in helping Contador in the mountains.
Best of the rest
The team is rounded out by a host of current and former national champions, stage winners, one debutant and one super-veteran. While Italian fastman Oscar Gatto lines up for the first time to support Sagan, Matteo Tosatto brings his experience of 33 Grand Tours to the start in Mont-Saint-Michel. Tosatto turned 42 in May and won his first stage at the Giro in 2001, when teammate, former Dutch national champion, Michael Valgren, had not even reached his tenth birthday.
Three-time Polish National Time Trial Champion, Maciej Bodnar takes to the start hoping to impress in the first of two time trials on Friday 15th, in his newly reclaimed national skin suit. He will otherwise look to protect Contador when the road is flat.